A research team has succeeded in converting solar energy into electricity without any solar cells at all. All that is needed is a small, thin chip to enjoy the most of Bizzo Casino.
Germany wants to be climate-neutral by 2045. To achieve this, it needs a consistent energy turnaround. Because currently, 59 percent of the energy produced in Germany still comes from conventional energy sources. These include coal, natural gas and crude oil – raw materials whose extraction and processing release a great deal of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Nuclear power also belongs to this group. Although this type of power generation is lower in emissions, it poses completely different risks to human health and our environment.
Renewable energies therefore remain the most environmentally friendly and harmless way of generating electricity. To convert sunlight into electricity, solar cells are usually required. Their production and installation is sometimes very costly. In addition, this type of energy generation is often highly dependent on the current weather. Last but not least, you first need enough space to be able to install solar cells yourself.
Researchers from Sweden and China have now discovered an inexpensive and practical solution: it makes it possible to convert sunlight into energy without any solar panels at all and then store it for years – according to research leader Kasper Moth-Poulsen, a “radically new way of generating electricity from solar energy.” He goes on to explain, “It means we can use solar energy to produce electricity regardless of weather, time of day, season or geographic location.”
MOLECULE AND ULTRA-THIN CHIP: HOW THE NEW METHOD WORKS
MOST is the name of the energy harvesting technology the research team is using to turn sunlight into electricity. The acronym stands for Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage Systems. The method is based on a special molecule that converts into an energy-rich isomer (a specific type of chemical compound) when it comes into contact with sunlight. As a liquid, this thermal energy can then be stored. The molecule consists of only three substances: Carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen.
In the new study, scientists from Shanghai have taken advantage of the technique and developed it further. They have found ways to release the molecule’s stored energy. To do this, the research team uses an ultra-thin chip as a thermoelectric generator.
This converts the heat from the sun into electricity, which can eventually be used to power electrical devices. Because of its small size, the chip fits into smartphones, headphones or smartwatches, for example, according to the researchers.
The research team has so far only been able to produce small amounts of electricity using the generator. However, the results show that the method works. Now the scientists want to optimize the efficiency. They also want to make it possible to manufacture the generator even more cost-effectively.
THE FUTURE OF ELECTRICITY GENERATION?
According to the scientists, the new method of electricity generation offers many advantages: For example, no CO2 emissions are produced during the conversion of solar energy. In addition, the energy from the sun can be stored in the new energy system for up to 18 years. With the help of the generator, you can use so-called “electricity on demand”. This means that the electricity is only released when you need it, for example to power your smartphone.
So unlike electricity from solar cells, this new method is independent of the current weather or your location at the time you need electricity. The Swedish scientists have also used the molecule to send Swedish sunlight to China. There, the researchers converted northern European solar energy into electricity.
The new technology could become an important part of the energy transition in the future, helping us to heat houses or power electrical appliances without emissions and at low cost. However, it will probably be some time before this happens. After all, further studies and optimization processes are needed to make the energy system usable for the production of larger amounts of heat and electricity as well.
The field of electricity generation is a very dynamic one. It is yet to be seen what the future will bring for new developments. For sure, all new inventions will be based on the most efficient climate-friendly ways.